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October 14, 2010

More Self-"Criticism" From Obama: Maybe I Should Have Pushed The Same Dismal Failure of a Stimulus Plan That Has Resulted In Millions Of Americans In Grinding Joblessness, But Perhaps I Should Have Been More Politically Crafty About It

That article that I cited below (tipped to me by Slublog) was quoted by Allah yesterday, and it's been bothering me since.

While proud of his record, Obama has already begun thinking about what went wrong — and what he needs to do to change course for the next two years. He has spent what one aide called “a lot of time talking about Obama 2.0” with his new interim chief of staff, Pete Rouse, and his deputy chief of staff, Jim Messina. During our hour together, Obama told me he had no regrets about the broad direction of his presidency. But he did identify what he called “tactical lessons.” He let himself look too much like “the same old tax-and-spend liberal Democrat.” He realized too late that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects” when it comes to public works.

You want to know who knew there was no such thing as a "shovel-ready project"? (Thumbs back to self.) This guy!

Wanna know how I knew? Because I listened to people who seemed to know what they were talking about who cured me of this misapprehension.

In 2006, when the economy was hitting a doldrums, I myself was pushing the idea of spending money on shovel-ready infrastructure projects. Makes sense -- the economy needs a jolt, and a lot of infrastructure projects get put off and off and really need to be done at some point, so why not get the most bang for the buck and just take care of such needs when the economy most needs it?

Makes so much sense it's almost fun to say.

But readers -- commenters -- informed me that this was fatally flawed in the starting premise -- that there was any sort of genuine infrastructure project that could be put into motion in the three or six month (maximum) window in which such a project would help get us out of a recession or a slowing economy. Readers, again, who seemed to know their onions, told me such projects took at least a year, if not a year and a half or two, to plan and survey and get all required approvals for, and in a year to two years, the recession would be passed, and the project would have no effect on it whatsoever.

So as lovely an idea as this seemed, people smarter than me were able to convince me it was just not a realistic idea. Pretty, but silly.

But... no one's smarter than Obama, right? And no one's smarter, either, than all of his political hacks charged with righting the economy. So they heard the pretty idea and just ran with it.

That's why there are so many "dog parks" listed in the stimulus bill. You can make a dog park in a couple of weeks. You don't need any heavy engineering work for it, right? So, we now have some dog parks and bike paths. Because they're "shovel ready" because they're so easy. And so trivial, both in terms of stimulus effect and value added to our infrastructure.

But that's not even the thing I'm pissed off about. It's this next thing:

Perhaps he should not have proposed tax breaks as part of his stimulus and instead “let the Republicans insist on the tax cuts” so it could be seen as a bipartisan compromise.

Let's look at the facts, not the politics: The stimulus did not work. Millions of good people are in dire financial straights (not to mention psychological hell) due to their long-term unemployment, wondering if the will ever get a job again, or if this is the new normal.

That's the fact. The stimulus did not work and in fact probably hurt. So how does Obama deal with this reality?

Does he consider that perhaps he should have pushed for a differently-shaped stimulus?

No. He insists that he would have pushed the same failed stimulus that is the reason for millions of Americans being in distress and want. The one thing he would have done differently is how he approached it politically -- he would have made Republicans agree to his plan in order to get some (minor, fakey) tax cuts, so Republicans too would have been responsible for this monstrous failure and could not criticize him for it.

Get that? What he would have changed is not the failure itself; that's full-speed ahead. He would have put Americans through the same misery and pain. What he would have changed, all he would have changed, would be to get Republicans on the hook for the failure as well.

The reality, as far as he's concerned is fine. It's a failure; so what? The only thing that matters is the politics of it, because that's the thing that's pulling his job approval ever closer to the 39% mark. Because that's how the Great Recession effects him, personally -- just in terms of popularity and people's estimation of how Awesome he is.

He'd keep the Great Recession as-is if only people would, between pulling their hair out wondering how they're going to make rent, blame the Republicans for it more and still think he's Captain Awesome.

There you go. That's what you elected, America. Take a bow.


Barack Hussein Obama

Like the Greek gods whose colonnades he enjoys posing amidst, petty humans exist only to worship him and thereby increase his deific awesomeness.

And like the Greek gods, he visits disasters upon the earth.






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